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Amid rancor and recrimination, Brandeis University president rejects contract

In an escalating row with Brandeis University, President Ron Liebowitz released a statement on Tuesday announcing that he would not accept an offer from the university’s Board of Trustees for a one-year contract. The dispute appears to be over missed fundraising targets over the past year.

Liebowitz, who joined Brandeis in 2016 after serving as president at Middlebury, is currently six months from the end of his term, and in a statement to the press called the new contract offer “a dead end.”

In his statement, Liebowitz said that the Board’s reasoning for a one-year contract came down to a feeling “that fundraising has been insufficient.” Liebowitz also disputed this, claiming that “fundraising had turned a corner,” and that 2020 had actually been one of the most profitable fundraising years for Brandeis since 2010, even despite the pandemic.

This does not mean that Liebowitz has resigned, but he emphasized that the limited time period would not allow him to complete the fundraising he is currently undertaking for Brandeis, and further that several potential big donors had asked him about his longevity.

The Boston Globe (https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/16/metro/brandeis-president-spat-with-trustees/) first carried the news that Liebowitz had rejected the offer, and reported that the President had until Monday to make a decision.

In a statement to the Forward, Board chairman Meyer Koplow said Liebowtiz made “additional financial demands we could not agree to.” This, coupled with the fact that “he was not meeting fund-raising expectations,” led the Board to offer just one more year “to see if he could succeed in his efforts.”

“We remain interested in working with President Leibowitz to extend his tenure at Brandeis, but we also need to take care with decisions that have a long-term impact on the University,” Meyer wrote. “We have reached out to President Leibowitz and hope to meet with him in the coming days.”

In a statement to the Forward, a university spokesperson said, “The Board of Trustees and the University President both share a deep commitment to Brandeis University and they are in discussions on the best path forward.”

The Forward has reached out to President Liebowitz for further comment.

This story will be updated as it develops.

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